Ok so I’ve lived in Austria now for almost two years and yet there is one tradition that I feel is still rather disturbing to me or perhaps more to my kids. You see I grew up in a country where Santa always knew if you were behaving… “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake”… My parents would remind of Santa’s watching every once in a while if my behaviour ever got out of line and that’s all I needed to stand up straight and say my “please” & “thank you’s”.
Here however, I guess the kids are hard core. Santa or Saint Nicholas as they refer to him is way too soft, too forgiving and just well, a push over for any child really. Nah here in Austria they need some scary ass monster to get their kids to straighten up their shit and behave properly.
Krampus is this frightful beast who visits those children who have not behaved during the year. He marks his presence using the sounds of chains rattling outside your front door on the eve of December 5th. Children who hear these chains know that Krampus is close and normally this is their que to run & hide in complete terror. Now I am a mother who is always first in line to watch any child’s reaction to surprises but not at this event! My husband experienced this as a child and remembers how frightened he was. Although he never saw Krampus, the rattled chains noise (which was done as a favour from a neighbour) was enough to scare him into good behaviour. And all that was needed as a reminder was the name “Krampus” spoken out load. Trying to imagine this scary night through the eyes of a child…
I’ll leave you with some lasting impressions that most Austrian children tend to remember come each Christmas season.
“Dieter! Sit up straight I said or shall I call my friend Krampus again?” <child shits himself>
Parenting in Austria is definitely more entertaining 🙂